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Henry Clay Frick


I was in Pittsburgh for like 3 hours yesterday. What to do in the Steel City? I know, visit the grave of American supervillain Henry Clay Frick!

This was a bit subtle for my taste in graves containing evil people. Why was Frick so evil? For one, he was the architect of the Homestead strike. Andrew Carnegie’s right hand man at Homestead Steel, Frick took over when Carnegie went on an extended trip to Scotland. The extent to which Carnegie knew the violent unionbusting to come is debatable, but he almost certainly did. Anyway, Frick took it upon himself to bust the steel workers union, including inciting violence at Homestead when his hired army of Pinkertons attempted to land on the river shore. After Frick decimated the union, anarchist Alexander Berkman tried to kill him, but failed in one of the greatest failures of an assassination attempt in history. How you can’t kill a fat Gilded Age plutocrat when you have a gun and a knife and you just walk into his office to do it, I don’t know. Anyway, the knife Berkman used is on display at the Heinz museum in Pittsburgh.

You might think that Homestead was bad enough. But oh no. Frick was also the leading member of the hunting club above Johnstown, Pennsylvania that refused to fix a dam, leading to its collapse and the 1889 Johnstown Flood that killed over 2200 people. Frick himself led the group that turned the old dam into a private elite resort and hunting club. They changed the dam to make it more convenient for their needs, but also weakened it. After the flood, Frick’s primary move was to form a legal strategy to protect the club’s numbers from personal liability. This doesn’t even get into his business maneuvers, considered immoral even by the standards of the Gilded Age. Even in his day, Frick was called “the most hated man in America.”

So basically I visited the grave of one of the worst human beings in the history of the United States.

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